PHL rejoining ICC to boost investments, analysts say

PHL rejoining ICC to boost investments, analysts say

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

REJOINING the International Criminal Court (ICC) could improve investor confidence in the Philippines because it shows that the government of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. is serious about upholding human rights, analysts said at the weekend.

“Investors are assured that accountability and transparency are part and parcel of our legal system and that the system can withstand scrutiny,” Leonardo A. Lanzona, who teaches economics at the Ateneo de Manila University, said in a Facebook Messenger chat. “As a whole, rejoining the ICC will be boon to foreign investments.”

Mr. Marcos earlier said his government is considering rejoining the ICC, which is investigating his predecessor, Rodrigo R. Duterte, for alleged “crimes against humanity.”

He had ruled out cooperation with the international court, saying its probe violates Philippine sovereignty given the country’s fully functional justice system.

Solicitor General Menardo I. Guevarra earlier said the Philippines is not legally bound to cooperate with the tribunal’s probe of the drug war since it is no longer a member.

Mr. Duterte canceled Philippine membership in the ICC in 2018.

The Hague-based tribunal reopened its probe of the drug war in January because it was not satisfied with Philippine efforts to probe extralegal killings and other alleged human rights abuses during the campaign.

Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst and conveyor of think tank InfraWatch PH, said rejoining the tribunal would show that the Philippines has clear human rights commitments, which would raise the confidence of international bodies such as the European Union (EU).

“This allows more economic opportunities for the country, which would have been previously unavailable if we did not have an enhanced human rights commitment,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

European Parliament lawmakers who visited the Philippines in February had urged the Philippines to rejoin the ICC to show its commitment to human rights.

Philippine privileges under the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) will be extended by four years, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron told reporters last week.

The arrangement, which grants zero duties on 6,274 locally made products, was set to expire by year-end.

In exchange, the Philippines must uphold commitments to 27 international conventions on human rights, labor, good governance and climate action.

Philippine civil society groups have raised concerns about the extension, saying the state has yet to improve human rights conditions.

The House of Representatives committee on justice and human rights on Nov. 29 adopted three resolutions urging the government to cooperate with the ICC probe.

Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel filed a similar resolution last week, citing the need to affirm the country’s commitment to human rights before the international community.

Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa, who was Mr. Duterte’s national police chief, said he does not expect the resolution to gain traction. He earlier said the Philippines should resolve sovereignty and jurisdiction issues before rejoining the ICC.

Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio, the former president’s daughter, earlier said allowing ICC investigators to probe crimes during the campaign would undermine the Philippine justice system.

The Philippine government estimates that at least 6,117 drug dealers were killed in police operations. Human rights groups say as many as 30,000 drug suspects died.

“The proposal to rejoin the ICC is a way of showing that we believe in the rule of law and that our institutions are strong enough to enforce such rules,” Mr. Lanzona said.